close
close
Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Jude Bellingham: Real Madrid midfielder faces former club Borussia Dortmund and has helped fill Karim Benzema’s void | Football news

By Vaseline May31,2024

Saturday’s Champions League final between Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund has extra significance for Jude Bellingham. His current side against his previous one. And also on home soil. But don’t expect the magnitude of the occasion to affect him.

There is a greater chance that he will get better from it. This is a player who, at the age of 20, has scored injury-time winners both home and away against Barcelona in his first season at Real Madrid. His hunger for the biggest games was the defining feature of a stunning 23-goal campaign.

Any doubts about how he might adapt under the bright spotlight of Real Madrid, with all the pressure the shirt brings, were immediately dispelled following his £115 million arrival.

Use the Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper Gregor Kobel is unfazed by former teammate Jude Bellingham and Real Madrid playing in the Champions League final.

His first three appearances, all away from home, yielded four goals. On his debut at the Bernabeu against Getafe in September, he scored a winner in the 95th minute. “It’s crazy, I’m at a loss for words,” said teammate David Alaba. And that was only four games.

Bellingham continued to deliver. There was a 94th minute winner on his Champions League bow for the club, against Union Berlin. Goals against Girona, Napoli, Osasuna and Braga followed.

Then, in October, an almost improbable highlight when he struck twice, the first a 30-yard stunner, the second another injury-time winner to seal a comeback win against Barcelona in El Clásico. Ridiculously, he repeated the feat when they met again in April.

“Our fans got used to Cristiano Ronaldo, now they have Jude,” said Vinicius Junior. “Bellingham was born to play for Real Madrid.”

Records were broken in the previous months.

His total of fourteen goals in his first fifteen games was the highest in the club’s history, more than even Ronaldo and Alfredo Di Stefano managed. And while his scoring percentage has declined since Christmas, the dip can be forgiven considering the ridiculous heights he previously reached.

Use the Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Jude Bellingham, wearing Zinedine Zidane’s iconic number 5 shirt at Real Madrid, explains why the Frenchman was the benchmark for him growing up

“He is new to La Liga, new to Real Madrid, and there is a lot of pressure when you are in that position,” says Fernando Morientes. And he should know. The former striker, a three-time Champions League winner with Madrid, scored 100 goals in 272 appearances for the club after joining from Real Zaragoza in 1997.

“His first half of the season was great,” he added of Bellingham. “He’s had some ups and downs, which is normal for any young player, but I think his adjustment has been extraordinary.

“The hardest thing for a player in a new league, with a new culture and a new language, is to adapt, but his adaptation has been fantastic. That’s something all clubs want in their players.”

Use the Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Ahead of the Champions League final, Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham was asked about teammate Vinicius Junior winning the Ballon D’or and the prospect of Kylian Mbappe joining the club.

Given the circumstances, the need was particularly acute in Madrid. Bellingham was signed as part of their midfield succession plan, but there was also the small matter of replacing Karim Benzema’s goalscorer after his departure to Saudi Arabia. Kylian Mbappé did not come. Neither does Harry Kane.

Bellingham needed to go a step further and move into an advanced role in midfield, somewhere between a false nine and a number 10. A comparison between his heatmaps from the past two seasons highlights the magnitude of the positional change. It was new to him. It didn’t show up.

Jude Bellingham has switched sides and moved further forward
Image:
Jude Bellingham has switched sides and moved further forward

“This year, Real Madrid have not played with a natural striker,” Morientes continues. “This has meant that a second-line player has had to take on more responsibility to get into the forward line and get through the penalty area to score goals.

“Bellingham has shown an amazing ability to do that and define different playing styles. If we had wondered at the start of the season whether he would become Real Madrid’s top scorer, few people would have thought that. They would have thought that Rodryo, Vinicius or Joselu, the attackers.

“But he has added different facets to his abilities as a player and that is great at his age. He is not just a good midfielder who can create chances. He has added more to his game. As a young player, if you are able to do that To incorporate such new skills ultimately benefits the team.”

That has certainly been the case for Real Madrid. Bellingham had shown his scoring potential at Dortmund, but this season was something different. Last season he surpassed his total of fourteen goals in just a few months.

GRAPHIC
Image:
Jude Bellingham’s attacking threat has been transformed

His shot count is roughly in line with last season’s, but crucially the quality of those shots has increased significantly. His expected goals per 90 minutes have almost doubled, from 0.25 to 0.43. Madrid has been rewarded for putting him in better positions. Bellingham is getting almost 50 percent more touches in opposition than last season.

Carlo Ancelotti has been surprised by his maturity. “It feels like he’s 30, because of his character, his personality.” But Bellingham was keen to acknowledge the Real Madrid manager’s role in his success. “All credit goes to Ancelotti, who found the right position for me and gave me more freedom on the pitch, so now I’m flying,” he said after receiving the Golden Boy award in December.

However, it is thanks to Bellingham that Ancelotti’s tactical adjustment actually worked. Physically he has found another level; his stamina and running power allow him to shuttle between midfield and attack without leaving the team exposed.

Use the Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Jude Bellingham talks about Wayne Rooney’s influence after winning the prestigious Golden Boy award earlier this season

“I think one of the skills or characteristics of Jude Bellingham is his physique,” ​​said Morientes, who now works as an ambassador for La Liga. “As a midfielder you must have a powerful physique, because you often have to perform the most in matches.”

It is important to note that Bellingham’s role is not just an offensive role. He will also be asked to contribute defensively, even filling a left midfield role in Champions League knockout games, where Madrid have had to sit back and absorb the pressure.

But of course it is in the final third that he has done his best work.

Only Villarreal’s Alexander Sorloth has scored more goals in open play in La Liga. Bellingham also recorded six assists. He excelled at creating chances, but also created a lot. Only two players have made more through balls. He ranks third for possession won in the final third, both a ball winner and ball player.

Jude Bellingham has a total of 25 goals and assists in La Liga
Image:
Jude Bellingham has a total of 25 goals and assists in La Liga

Real Madrid will hope to see the full breadth of his offering again as they look to add another Champions League win to the domestic title they have already secured at Wembley. What happens next will also be intriguing.

It is expected that the club will finally complete the signing of Mbappé this summer, the Frenchman’s likely appointment in advance, coupled with the impending retirement of Toni Kroos, which will once again impact Bellingham’s role and require another adjustment is coming.

But his importance to the team will undoubtedly continue. Bellingham represents the club’s present and future. Back on home soil on Saturday, an extraordinary debut season could get even better.

Watch LALIGA TV exclusively on Premier Sports in the UK. All of LALIGA, everything in one place. Available from just €7.99/month.

Related Post